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Adderall and Decision Fatigue

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One benefit that I feel that I received from adderrall was lessening the amount of information processing required to make a decision. In brief: it helped me make my decisions more efficiently and confidently.

 

Now, this is not necessarily a good thing. My decision may have been of low quality but because I made it more efficiently (using less cognitive resources) I did not feel as fatigued by the end of the day. 

 

Read about decision fatigue here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/21/magazine/do-you-suffer-from-decision-fatigue.html?_r=0

 

I think this lessening of decision fatigue may be an overlooked factor in the appeal of adderall. It is not simply a CNS stimulant that provides a jolt physiologically (so to speak), but tends to decrease the amount of information processing required for people to make decisions, lessening fatigue. 

 

Well, since I am not going back to adderall, I have started to think about ways of managing decision fatigue in my own life and here are two ways I have come up with.

 

1.) Schedule --> I need to automate as many decisions in my life as possible. I need a rigid morning and evening routine such that I make most of the small decisions effortlessly and without expending precious cognitive resources.

 

2.) Meditation --> The mechanism of returning to the present moment when my mind begins to wonder will help me to process decision relevant information more efficiently. This should also decrease decision fatigue. 

 

Some questions for you folks:

 

Have you struggled with decision fatigue?

 

How has daily structure helped lessen it?

 

Have you tried meditation, and did it help with decreasing it?

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There are some days where I just can't make another decision.  Don't ask me where I want to go for dinner...just don't.  LOL  Nothing helps me except going on strike from making decisions.  I have never tried meditation...I just can't sit still that long without someone asking me to make a decision. 

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Haha...I know that feeling all too well, AlwaysAwesome. Once decision fatigue reaches its limit, I'm done making good, hard choices. :-)

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I had the opposite experience on adderall. I felt the need to overconsume information and overanalyze everything to the point of decision paralysis. I could spend an hour writing a two paragraph email. If I was ever confident and efficient on adderall, it was during the honeymoon period only.

I think you'll find that your executive functioning returns to normal over time. Think about how inconsequential your daily decisions are in the grand scheme of things - that might help.

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That is interesting Cassie. No doubt people are affected in different ways by adderall depending on their personality. I am the kind of person who, when not on adderall, by nature overanalyzes and overinterprets everything from writing an email to interpersonal interaction. Adderrall tended to make me calm and decreased my tendency to mull over information relevant to a decision. If I had a good idea I would just write it down. If I wanted to go somewhere, I just went. I didn't overthink it.

 

In terms of considering my daily decisions as inconsequential, that is the exact kind of thinking I am trying to change. I tend, when not on adderall, to think extremely abstractly and conceptually, without paying attention to how the day-to-day small decisions add up to be very consequential. 

 

I am glad that my EF will return over time. :-) Thanks for the response. 

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It made me calm at first too (like for the first year or so). However, whatever adderall (or any drug) gives you in the beginning, it takes away in the end. I'm guessing you weren't on it long enough to experience that, which is a good thing because you'll recover faster. The downside is you will romanticize the drug more.

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Nah, I was on it for 3+ years. I didn't really go through a "honeymoon phase" and never took more than 10 mg a day. I did take it pretty consistently though. 

 

I couldn't agree more with your second sentence. :-) 

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I can't deny that it worked and it worked for me right up until I quit. Like Mike though, I didn't like the idea that my colleagues were able to do excellent work and didn't need a drug to do it.  I know that I am able to overcome any work obstacle (e.g. decision fatigue) without the adderall crutch. I just have to change my life. 

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This is a really interesting thread.   Decision fatigue has affected my life tremendously and in hindsight, it was at its worst when I was on adderall.  I remember having major life decisions to make, and taking large amounts of adderall specifically before spending time making my "pro" and "con" lists.  I thought it would help me make a decision more efficiently, but it made me even more indecisive.  I would obsess over every aspect of my decisions, but I could never really come to any conclusion.

 

I think it's probably because on speed, I couldn't hear what my intuition and heart were really saying.  Unfortunately, I'm naturally an overthinker.  But I've gotten better at forcing myself to make decisions more quickly, and to be OK when/if they aren't right.  This forces me to stop overthinking things and just be decisive.  I am finding that my first intuition is usually, after thinking things through, still the right choice for me. 

 

It's awesome that you know how to self-manage by setting up routines so that you minimize the number of decisions you have to make each day.   I know that helps me a lot, too.

 

In my experience, whatever your pre-adderall struggle was, whatever it is that adderall helped you to magically achieve, is the challenge you really need to confront when you quit.  (Focusing, staying organized, studying, decision-making, staying fit, self-confidence, whatever.)  The good news is that you'll be even better at it once you build those skills without adderall. 

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In my experience, whatever your pre-adderall struggle was, whatever it is that adderall helped you to magically achieve, is the challenge you really need to confront when you quit.

so true

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This is so true.  My main reason for getting on Adderall was to be able to clean my whole house without getting so distracted that I never fully finished any room. Well, I am right back there and I really have to try hard to not flutter around the house like a butterfly when I am cleaning.  Cleaning the entire craft room on Sunday was a HUGE achievement for me.  I didn't even really celebrate it the way I should have, I suppose...

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If you need a kick in the ass at some point, I highly recommend Steven Pressfield's book, The War of Art. Really got me back on track with work and hobbies (but I have been sober a long time as well)

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Occasional: I know what you mean about overthinking on adderall. There were certain scenarios when I would massively overthink when I was on it and that is when I took technical tests (e.g. statistics exams) with time pressure. In this situation, I tended to do worse than I would off adderall. Yet, this was not a general effect. Without time pressure I felt that I could conduct the math aspects of my research without mulling too long over different possibilities. 

 

I also agree with what you are saying about the importance of intuition. It is precisely here where I felt that adderall increased the confidence in my information processing and, by consequence, augmented the efficiency of my decision making (lessening decision fatigue).

 

You are right, the lack of confidence and efficiency in my decision making is what I must confront now that I'm off adderall. Thanks so much for your response. 

 

AlwaysAwesome: I wonder to what extent distractability is confounded by decision fatigue? At any rate, everything I do feels like a huge accomplishment right now. lol

 

Cassie: I do need a big kick in the ass right now. I took a look at Pressfield's books and I am going to order the War of Art. Thanks for the recommendation. 

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